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    Greenies take the fight to the uranium industry

    Ben Sharples

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    THE final session of the Australian Uranium Conference in Fremantle yesterday saw both sides of the uranium debate square off against each other, with a presentation by the Australian Conservation Foundation getting under the skin of some in the audience.

    The ACF's Dave Sweeney started out by pouring cold water over the greenhouse line adopted by industry and politics, but praised the nuclear debate for drawing public attention to greenhouse emissions.

    "A good thing about the current nuclear debate is an awareness of the need to change the way that we create and consume energy," Sweeney said. "However, ACF doesn't see nuclear power as a suitable alternative."

    "Contrary to what's been said, nuclear is not greenhouse neutral."

    Sweeney said the extraction, processing, concentration and transport of ore, including the removal and subsequent processing, re-processing and management of waste, all had a greenhouse footprint.

    During his 20 minute presentation, Sweeney also drew links to weapons, radioactive waste, inadequate regulation, industry performance and safety concerns as underlying factors against nuclear energy.

    Rather than embracing nuclear technology, Sweeney said Australia's role should be to "enhance, refine, commercialise, apply and export renewable energies and smart technologies" as a way of tackling greenhouse issues.

    Despite the applause, not all were sold on Sweeney's views, with Graeme Campbell taking the opportunity during question time after BHP Billiton's presentation to brand the anti-nuclear campaigner's speech "dishonest nonsense", calling on BHPB to take a leading role to counter the "false information" coming from the Conservation Groups.

    BHPB's Richard Yeeles took a diplomatic stance, saying there were alternative points of view and dialogue was required to understand each other's stance on the situation, but he couldn't resist a cheap shot at Sweeney's presentation

    "I understand your frustration listening to points of view that you know are not based on fact," Yeeles told the audience.

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